LET'S not mess about. Tricky is a man bigger than his music. He's a face, an image, a mask. It's far easier to compare him to writers than past musicians. Which, to his credit, implies that there are still traces of individuality.
   His stage and media persona borrows just as much from recent literary greats: from the likes of an Orwell and his nightmarish future - only with the Tricky Kid it's now; from the decrepit urban stench favoured by Hubert Selby Jr or Burroughs' heroin Hades - all people who immerse themselves in a fictionalised environment to such an extent that they snap or undergo a radical change. OrwelI moved more towards the centre (some say to the far right), Selby went through the smack machine... but what will become of Tricky? Knowing our luck, and judging by tonight's performance, he'll probably end up like Lou Reed: bitter and boring. 
    Playing in front of a haute couture carnival crowd which sees an endless parade of expensive trainers and flash haircuts, Tricky is on his home turf, he's playing to people who have probably yet to realise that his new album "Angels With Dirty Faces" is, in fact, a bag of old bollocks.
    Gone is the original edge, or even the "out-there" stylistics of "Nearly God", and what

makes it worse is the fact that "Angels... " (named after a classic James Cagney film, incidentally) is solitude music which, tonight, just doesn't carry live. Sure, I feel lonely, but mostly I'm bored. No visuals, very little movement and no cold chills like he used to provide live.
     "Christian Sands" sees the Trickster slipping straight into his head-rolling routine, a sight akin to Prince Naz warming up, but from then on in, it's staid, unchallenging, uninspiring - the very antithesis of what Tricky should be about.
     The Tricky head tic soon turns to full-blown Tourette's with "Analyse Me", but the band plod along like any number of free-festival dub outfits. Martina's voice is momentarily uplifting, but it's soon dampened with another rock-out of wah-wah guitars and tom-tom beats. "Broken Homes" and "Ponderosa" are erm... interesting, in fact, every song contains at least 20 seconds of brilliance, but halfway through the set things become thoroughly boring, formulaic and predictable.
     Tricky's shamanic warble often delves into the land of nod, a dead man talking. Or maybe that's the point? Is he living the life he sings of? If you exist in a permanent state of fear and disgust, are you reduced to a murmur? Do you lose your voice fhe way moles go blind from lack of sunlight? Is it all a big con? Who knows.
     Whatever; the Tricky milk has soured and left a bad aftertaste. As a kid, milk always left me gagging and puking - tonight it's not even such a violent reaction, just a mildly (mind) numbing poison.


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photo: Steve Hall 

from: Melody Maker, 30. May 1998